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Newfoundland Issue Still Clouded


[For the source of this document, see the end of the text.]

The people of Newfoundland are learning today that the road back to the democratic form of government and to the responsibility for their own affairs which they surrendered in 1933, is not an easy one.

It would seem that the main reaction in the island to last week's referendum is disappointment that no clear-cut decision was reached and that another expensive and disturbing referendum must take place in mid-July.
Last week's referendum did, however settle one point. The Newfoundlanders demonstrated unequivocally that they wanted democracy and responsibility once more. Some wanted it in the form of union with the Canadian democracy, others preferred to go their own way as an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth.
Even the some 20,000 votes cast for the retention of Commission of Government would not seem to have indicated lack of faith in their own capabilities or resources on the part of voters. They appear to have been rather a protest against certain aspects of the pre-referendum campaign and a reflection of the element of uncertainty introduced by the "Economic Union With the United States Movement".
There is a strong probability that this movement, the founder of which admitted that he himself does not "quite know what it means", influenced many voters to withhold a vote for Confederation with Canada.
They were probably intrigued by and curious about Economic Union with the United States and wanted to have longer and more thoughtful consideration of it before making an irrevocable decision to unite with Canada .
While Canada and Canadians are wisely keeping their hands and voices out of the entire situation, perhaps it would not be taken amiss to suggest at this point that the Commission of Government, as its final act, should go to the United States, as none Government to another, and endeavor to obtain some clear idea as to the possibilities or results of "Economic Union".
Many Newfoundlanders would thank the often-criticized but hard working and conscientious members of the Commission for that final service.

Source : "Newfoundland Issue Still Clouded", editorial, Montreal Gazette, June 7, 1948, p. 8.


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© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College